This week, sadly, I, and many others have to report that Australia’s history of doublespeak on nuclear disarmament has now gone even further down the path of promoting nuclear weapons.
The Australian government did this by sabotaging the final day of the UN Open-ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. It did this by attempted to derail a ban on nuclear weapons at a UN meeting on disarmament, by single-handedly forcing a vote on a report that had been expected to pass unanimously.
“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” – J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientist and “father of the bomb”
On the morning of 6 August 1945, the first atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy” was dropped by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Three days later the United States dropped a plutonium bomb code-named “Fat Man” on the city of Nagasaki. 140,000 people (almost all civilians) died in Hiroshima either immediately or within a few days. Deaths in Nagasaki were about 74,000. The survivors lived on, some with horrifying burns scars, some to die of radiation-induced illnesses
Following the war, many scientists involved in the atomic bomb project, turned to the “atoms for peace” program – nuclear power. They did this partly out of guilt, partly to continue to be employed. (Where would a nuclear physicist get a job, otherwise? Well, some were happy to continue with nuclear weapons development)
Nuclear weapons are an inevitable by-product of the nuclear power industry
In 2016 Australia faces a further step into involvement in nuclear weapons and the American military encirclement of the globe. We’ve long had those connections, with Pine Gap and the US military buildup in Darwin.
The South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission ushers in a whole new phase.
The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s (NFCRC’s) Terms of References specifically excluded exploration of the military uses of nuclear materials. It is customary to appoint a legal expert, usually a retired judge. Why then did the government appoint two senior military officials to positions of Commissioner and Chief of Staff?
Is there a military connection to South Australia’s nuclear waste plan, that we haven’t been told about?
The plan to buy French submarines, that could later be converted to nuclear submarines has been linked with the NFCRC project, as Dan Monceaux has detailed in his submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry.
Another big worry is the apparent inability of Australia’s politicians, especially the ruling Liberal Coalition, to understand the contradictory position that they put us in. Enthusiastic support of USA’s militarism towards China, is a dangerous attitude for Australia to take, and most unwise, with China being our top trading partner.
Australia has long been part of the USA’s nuclear war strategy. Pine Gap, USA’s secret facility in Central Australia, has since 1966 been a centre for espionage and for co-ordination of US air strikes. It has been part of America’s “Star Wars” plan to put missiles into space. American congressmen have made $millions from their investments in Defense Department contracts in Pine Gap, and can tour Pine Gap. But Australian Members of Parliament are denied entry.
Recently, Australia’s role in the USA’s nuclear war strategy has been stepped up. A new base, at Exmouth. added to the Northwest Cape joint communications base, for increased tracking of missiles and satellites, and potentially for cyber warfare. U.S. Military equipment stationed in Darwin and Townsville. There will be increased visits from U.S. military ships, and more U.S. military exercises in Australia.
Being part of the American nuclear war machine makes a hypocrisy out of Australia’s supposed posture against nuclear weapons.
As an exporter of uranium, Australia plays a key part in nuclear weapons. There are no effective safeguards against uranium being used for weapons, – no real barrier between the “peaceful atom” and the “military atom”
Indigenous people continue to bear the brunt of nuclear toxicity. It started with uranium mining – of course, on indigenous land in rural areas, in USA, Canada, Bulgaria, Australia, Germany , India, and of course to provide nuclear weapons material.
Then came the nuclear bomb tests – on remote rural indigenous lands and islands
This Radioactive pollution remains today, from uranium mining in many countries – but always on or close to indigenous lands. The nuclear bomb test sites remain too radioactive for the indigenous people to return home.
Uranium mining and milling, nuclear bomb tests and radioactive wastes ... Russia is secretive about its nuclear wastes. They used to dump it in oceans, as did the French and others. Russia is notorious for its extremely polluted remote area at Mayak, where the rural people suffer the health legacy to this day
The “developed” world realises that something must be done with the growing amounts of radioactive trash.
Where to dump it? That’s a “developed society” no brainer
– ON INDIGENOUS LAND, of course. There’s now a movement to export radioactive trash to remote rural areas, such as the Aboriginal lands of Australia
Next week we will look at the indigenous fight against the nuclear industry
The Kungkas wrote in an open letter: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”
In 1963, Aboriginal people of East Arhem Land created ochre-framed bark petitions adorned with the clan designs of all that was threatened by mining – from the snakes to the sand dunes. These petitions against mining paved the way for the Indigenous land rights movement. These were the first traditional documents to be recognised by the Australian Parliament.
In 1966 Vincent Lingiari led the walk-off of Gurindji people from Wave Hill station , leading to l Whitlam’s historic land rights declaration in 1975. The indigenous people’s struggle for their land has never ceased. The focus for this fight for over 40 years was the Tent Embassy, established in Canberra in 1972, to protest against a court decision over mining operations on Aboriginal land.
Without financial resources, but with clear determination, Aboriginal people have fought and won many battles, especially against mining , with protests, and legal action.
On the nuclear front, outstanding victories include the Cape York Olkola people’s three-decade struggle against uranium mining, the Mirrarr people’s success in preventing further uranium mining at Ranger, in Northern Territory, and Jeffrey Lee’s remarkable action in preventing AREVA from further uranium mining in Kakadu National Park
In stopping nuclear waste dump plans for South Australia, in 2004 the battle was led by the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Aboriginal women led the 7 year battle to prevent nuclear waste dumping at Muckaty, Northern Territory.
I hope that White Australia will gather strength in opposition to the latest onslaught from the nuclear lobby – the nefarious Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission’s plan for South Australia as the global radioactive trash toilet. Very few indigenous people will be taken in by the slick spin and bribery of the nuclear lobby. Those strong, intelligent indigenous people who continue their determined fight, need all the support they can get from the rest of us.
What about the port for receiving the radioactive trash? – in what State? What about the rail and road transport of radioactive trash? Across which States?
What about Australia as the world’s laughing stock? No other country wants to be the global toxic trash can.
And of those countries that have nuclear power, not one of them has a completed and successfully operating nuclear waste facility for their own radioactive trash, let alone everybody else’s.
Sadly, the reality is that Australia’s major political parties, through ignorance or greed, or both, are in the grip of the global and local nuclear lobbies.
The Liberal Party has long been in cahoots with the nuclear industry, especially under the guidance of the rather secretive John White. The Labor Party, nearly as bad. And that includes Bill Shorten.
The federal election approaches – July 2nd – and Australia dream son, unaware of ther machination sof the nuclear lobby, and the South Australian and national politicians and media
Personalities of the leaders, Tax cuts, tax concessions, negative gearing – blah, blah – these are the big issues for the coming election. That’s what Australia’s politicians and media tell us.
That’s all not going to matter so much when the droughts, floods, bushfires hit. Or when sea level ruins beach resorts, bayside suburbs and towns. When Pacific islanders need refuge. And Australia has become even more of an international pariah, on climate change and on refugees.
Australia, but South Australia especially, could face the risk of becoming known as the world’s nuclear toilet – with the loss of the clean agriculture reputation, and with the financial burden of managing radioactive trash, after the foreign nuclear corporations have gone bankrupt.
Australia’s government is irrelevant. The Labor opposition is a little less so. The Greens really are the only party with an awareness of the great threats now hanging over Australians.
I have been managing www.nuclear-news.net for 9 years. With viewers, the most popular posts and pages have been on ETHICS. Isn’t that extraordinary, in this world where money, growth, and material consumption are generally seen as the top priorities?
There is nothing ethical about the nuclear industry. It began with making weapons of mass murder, and with uranium mining poisoning indigenouss lands. Then came all the lies about ‘peaceful nuclear ‘ (always still a front for nuclear weaponry)
Today, the economically failing nuclear industry tries to save itself with big lies – about climate change, about Chernobyl and Fukushima being “OK”, about ionising radiation being harmless.
Human society now faces big ethical dilemmas. Will it succumb to the blandishments of this immoral nuclear industry?
The public interest in subjects about ethics gives me hope that the world will say “NO” to nuclear weapons, nuclear power, and endless growth and consumption.
There is nothing ethical about the nuclear industry. It was begun in a 1940s scheme to kill millions of people – first with a plan to do this by radiation, then changed to do it by explosive annihilation of cities.
Sadly, some nuclear physicists thought they could turn all this to good – with producing electricity “too cheap to meter”. Many accidents, many cancers and birth defects later, the nuclear industry has proved just as toxic as it was in the 1940s.
Now Australia is faced with a new phase in the immorality of this toxic industry. The plan to import nuclear wastes is part of a global scheme to renew the failing nuclear industry – to build more reactors and produce more wastes.
As shown in the nuclear industry’s advertising film “Pandora’s Promise” this new “renaissance” of nuclear power is built on the idea of consuming ever more material products and electricity.
The sales pitch that “new nukes” will “eat nuclear wastes” is a lie, that would saddle our grandchildren, great-grand-children and beyond with a poisonous radioactive legacy.
The big sell is all about profit and jobs for South Australians. Yet any profits (if they did materialise at all) would not begin for 30 years, and would not last long – while the radioactive trash would last for thousands of years, requiring expensive security . Jobs for South Australians would be far fewer than that State could develop if it pursued its current success in renewable energy.
South Australia has already been the victim of unethical nuclear operations – with PM Menzies permitting the British atomic bomb tests – on Aboriginal land, of course.
One of the most immoral features of the global nuclear industry is the way that it oppresses indigenous peoples, by poisoning their land and water.
Now, Australia has the opportunity to, for once in our 200 year history of European occupation of this land, to say “NO” to the latest immoral nuclear idea – the plan of the shonky South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.
It’s really hard to estimate the full carbon footprint of the nuclear industry . Greenhouse gases are emitted in all stages of the lifecycle of a nuclear reactor: construction, operation, fuel production, dismantling and waste disposal. Leaving out any of these five stages will bias estimates towards lower values. The last two contributions, dismantling and waste disposal are particularly difficult to estimate. Not many commercial reactors have been fully decommissioned.
The ever repeated claim that nuclear power is emissions-free is simply not true.
Without subsidies for coal and nuclear The free market would choose the path to the most cost effective and cleanest sources of energy which would include wind, solar, small-scale hydro, geothermal, energy efficiency, tidal, and certainly not nuclear or “clean coal.”
The fossil fuel and nuclear industries are in this public deception together. Indeed, nuclear power is in itself a fossil fuel industry, depending on mining uranium (or thorium, which is then converted to uranium). The coal industry is confident of continuing for several decades, and then handing over to the nuclear industry, as coal runs out. The nuclear industry is happy about this, because it takes decades to get reactors set up and running.
Where these two toxic industries are also in agreement is in the aim to slow down, preferable stifle, the development of clean, and cheaper renewable energy sources, especially wind and solar power.
They also like the scenario promoted in the nuclear advertising film “Pandora’s Promise” – that is the endless growth of energy use. Coal and nuclear advocates do not like the idea of energy efficiency, energy conservation.
The nuclear industry proudly touts itself as the solution to climate change. But nothing could be further from the truth. The full nuclear fuel chain emits large amounts of Co2 and other greenhouse emissions. In the coming decades, indirect carbon dioxide emissions from nuclear power plants will increase considerably, because high-grade resources of uranium are exhausted and much more fossil energy will have to be used to mine uranium. In view of this trend, nuclear power plants will no longer have an emissions advantage over modern gas-fired power plants, let alone in comparison to the advantages offered by increased energy efficiency or greater use of renewable energies.
Even when they pretend that nuclear power would cut emissions, the industry itself is well aware that the thousands of reactors needed to have any real impact could not be up and running for many decades – way too late for combatting the global warming process.
That situation suits the fossil fuel industries perfectly. Coal can keep on being mined – “in the meantime”, and nuclear power can take over many decades later, when the coal runs out.
Fossil fuel and nuclear industries are large centralised operations. The much touted Small Modular Nuclear Reactors are supposed to be “decentralised”, but in fact are produced in, and totally dependent on, the same centralised grandiose way as the “conventional” big reactors.
The nuclear industry is very comfortable indeed, with the continuance of dirty fossil fuel industries, aiming for a smooth transition later on, when it can get its dirty industry up and running – meanwhile posing as the world’s saviour from climate chnage.
It seems impossible for petrol heads coal and gas heads, and especially nuke-heads to get their heads around this – BUT – renewable energy and energy effiicency ARE HAPPENING – world -wide, in both big ways, and small ways.
It must be tough, when you’re addicted to such a complex , complicated, and expensive technology as nuclear power – as well as addicted to the money you get from being involved in this business – it must be tough to consider the reality that the fuels for solar and wind energy are FREE, and so is the energy conservation from good design in energy efficiency.
As Dr Helen Caldicott pointed out, long ago, if they could put a blanket around the sun and sell holes, they would.
The out-dated energy systems of the past – nuclear,coal, gas, are looking more
and more like unwieldy and costly dinosaurs, as the world wakes up to the diversity and flexibility of 21st Century clean energy systems.
The nuclear lobby now tries its last ditch promotional pipe-dream – Small Nuclear Reactors – that in fact would rely on the continuation of the old big ones.
Australia has a bright renewable energy future. Indeed a pretty bright renewable energy present, too. Australian households have taken up solar energy in a big way – per head of population, the best in the world.
Wind energy is already a success story, with South Australia leading the way. Initiatives are happening, in utility scale renewable energy, particularly in the Australian Capital Territory.
For large scale renewable energy, Australia has lagged behind. The climate policies of Liberal Coalition governments, under PM Tony Abbott, and now PM Malcolm Turnbull have been, and still are, dictated by the fossilfuel/nuclear lobbies.
Yet we still have the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, supporting initiatives in clean energy. The Turnbull government still plans to axe these, in line with its obligations to its dirty industry funders.
The renewable energy revolution in Australia is being led from “below”, from the people. It’s not to do with “left” or “right” politics. It’s to do with practicalities. Eventually, we will get a government that faces up to the realities of energy sources in the 21st Century .
I’m betting that this has always been and still is the main purpose of South Australia’s expensive and biased pro nuclear Royal Commission.
The South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission (RC) will soon deliver its ‘tentative’ recommendations – (findings available to download from the www.nuclearrc.sa.gov.au from 11 am, February 15, 2016).
No. 2 on his list is: “the consideration of the establishment of a nuclear waste repository in South Australia”
I believe that the real drivers for this one are twofold:
- the desperate push of the global nuclear lobby. Nuclear reactor companies know that no new nuclear reactors can be built until there is a dump set out to take the wastes.
- the greed of some rather ignorant people in South Australia who simplistically see waste importing as a bonanza for themselves and their mates. – oh and of course – for South Australia, they add.
Fortunately, South Australia has a fine history of resisting the nuclear lobby’s push to make that State the world’s nuclear toilet.
From 1998−2004, the Howard government did its best to dump Australia’s nuclear waste on Aboriginal land in South Australia but faced fierce resistance from traditional owners and many others. In 2003, the government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished with the stroke of a pen.
The SA dump plan was abandoned in the face of overwhelming public opposition. www.greenleft.org.au/node/57065